Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out last week, and it has been an absolute blast seeing all the fun that people are getting up to on their islands vicariously through my Twitter timeline. In these stressful times, having a gentle and welcoming video game to distract us from the news has been a total relief! However, there comes a time when your little villager self has to head to bed, so while they sleep or wait for the store to open, here are some books that evoke that sweet Animal Crossing goodness to check out!
These books focus on close-knit communities, charming worlds, relaxing atmospheres, and a spirit of adventure that’ll make you excited to explore. This collection of light and sweet reads will help soothe your soul in no time.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Set in 1946 against the backdrop of a reclusive, but nevertheless eccentric, community of islanders, this book is the epitome of the words ‘quaint’ and ‘cosy’. The story follows Juliet, an author on the hunt for a new story, who finds herself enamoured with the villagers of the island of Guernsey, which was occupied by German soldiers in World War II. Interested in telling their stories of survival and resilience during the war, Juliet exchanges chains of letters and falls in love with them and their way of life.
Warm and funny, this book is great for fans of Animal Crossing’s multitude of hilarious and exciting townsfolk. This novel also focuses very heavily on all the different people that Juliet comes into contact with, and through reading their letters to her, it is impossible not to daydream about sailing over to meet them. There is the brooding pig farmer, a local witch who brews potions, a wannabe Miss Marple, a man who has dedicated his time to following the teachings of Ancient Roman philosopher Seneca, and many other oddballs to root for. This is a book all about a love for books, a love for community, and will easily melt your heart.
Laid Back Camp by Afro
Rin is a quiet girl who enjoys travelling to campsites around Mt. Fuji and finding peace in the outdoors. She is resourceful and smart, able to identify the best types of materials to build campfires as well as how to make the most out of her short getaways. When she comes across a girl who needs shelter from a rainstorm, what follows is the creation of a sweet group of fellow outdoor enthusiasts who find friendship and fun as they explore what nature has to offer.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is all about an escape to the outdoors, setting up a campsite and letting your new life flourish as you make friends and learn more about your island. For those players who enjoy the crafting and building aspect of the game, pursuing the best possible design for their island, this adorable manga is the perfect story to pick up and be just as absorbed by. Despite its calm and relaxed atmosphere, Laid Back Camp features lots of advice on how to camp effectively (including what type of natural resources to look out for) and it is encouraging to see the experts at work as they make a cosy and secure bubble to watch the world fly by from; maybe you can too! This manga is simple, gentle, and full of wholesome charm.
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
This book will no doubt speak to those Animal Crossing players who hunt down all the available bugs and fish for their museums or seek out ways to grow every type of fruit tree on their farm. Lady Trent loves dragons, is obsessed with them, and is determined to dedicate her life to studying every inch of them and becoming a professional expert. However, when the demands of her high society corral her into upper class pageantry, Lady Trent is delighted to be provided an opportunity to steal away with a dragon-hunting expedition.
From the tiniest dragons that fit in jars to monstrously huge wolf-eaters, Lady Trent’s enthusiasm for wildlife is addictive to read about and will undoubtedly bring joy to those of us who have also daydreamed of escaping to far-off fantasy lands. The book is well paced, never too rushed and yet never too slow, and the vivid descriptions of Lady Trent’s world will spirit you away to hidden coves, clustered menageries, and mountain roads – perfect escapism from the mundane everyday.
Moonstruck by Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle, illustrated by Kate Leth, Caitlin Quirk, and Clayton Cowles
One of my favourite Animal Crossing memories is hanging out at Brewster’s coffee shop and watching KK Slider play music in Wild World. The cosy atmosphere of the cafe, the triumph of unlocking more friendship opportunities with the owner, and just chilling out with good music and good vibes. For those Animal Crossing fans who love the variety of interesting places to hang out in the game, I’d recommend this adorable graphic novel. The story is set in the cosy college town packed with all sorts of literally magical people and creatures, and follows Julie, a werewolf, who takes her new girlfriend (who is also a werewolf) to a magic show which has unexpected consequences!
The art style of this book is gorgeous, full of lovely colours and soft lines that make this comic a sweet and gentle portal to a new world of great coffee and great friends. The LGBT+ representation is extremely welcome and normalised, and the blending of fantastical elements with a slice-of-life feel will make you want to climb into the pages and explore this world. From the central coffee shop with its adorable latte art, to the mysterious tent of the magic show, there’s plenty to see and plenty of adorable new friends to make!
Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami
A little tired and aimless in life, Tsukiko unwittingly strikes up an unlikely kinship with a man who used to be her high school teacher, sharing meals and walks together as they both search for peace and company in the face of loneliness. As their relationship grows and warm feelings begin to blossom alongside the wild mushrooms they discover, Tsukiko and Sensei’s story is a poignant and dreamy tale of food and friendship. This story is short, clean, and precise, with a hint of the unreal, and speaks to our longing for understanding in our quieter moments.
This book has a subtle hint of melancholy to it that reminds me of the night-time strolls you might take around your island town, long after all the attractions have closed and the villagers have gone to sleep. Maybe you’re looking for ghosts, some interesting insects, or just want to exist in the world free from any hustle and bustle, taking in the soft music and tread of your tiny shoes. Similarly, Tsukiko’s story is short and slightly bittersweet, and will wrap you up in that similar feeling of other-worldliness.
Do you have any lighthearted reads you’d recommend to your Animal Crossingvillage friends? Let us know! Here’s hoping in the future there will be a version of the game with a library we can all get lost in. I wonder if I’d be allowed to set up my personal camp in there…